Thursday, January 18, 2018

Warriors face secretive Iranians


Relaxed: Members of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team enjoy a light moment during a training session in Sao Paolo, Brazil yesterday ahead of today’s friendly international against Iran. —Photo: ttfa Media

Mark Fraser

 IRAN want no World Cup opponents to see what they do this afternoon against Trinidad and Tobago in their final warm-up match, before the Brazil 2014 FIFA tournament begins on Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Word is, the Iranians turned down an offer to make the match a public one and earn some money. They will also not allow it to be televised.

Instead from 3p.m. T&T time, the teams will kick off on the training field at the Arena Corinthians training ground, for basically a closed-door affair. 

While press from the two countries are allowed to view the match, word yesterday was that no one would be allowed to broadcast the match.

The atmosphere at game time therefore, will be nothing like it was last Wednesday when T&T took on Argentina in Buenos Aires. And for the game this afternoon, T&T coach Stephen Hart is contemplating a few changes. Some players who did not play during the 3-0 defeat to the Argentines might get a run. The Soca Warriors will also have to lift themselves after the death of the child of reserve goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who might have played tonight, but instead left for home on Friday.

“I want us to possess the ball more and use the ball better,” Hart said of his plan for Iran. 

He has great respect for the Asian champions, having seen a tape of them in recent action. 

“They are very quick,” Hart said. “They look like a team that can play.”

Still, the T&T coach expects his charges to have a greater share of the ball against Iran than they enjoyed against Argentina, one of the favourites to win the World Cup.  Iran are expected to be fitter, but closer to the level of the Caribbean team.

T&T captain and Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones thinks that matches against Argentina and Iran can only build up the relatively young Soca Warriors who are at a rebuilding stage. Jones felt that once the current group of footballers mature, T&T will have a good national team.

“The potential of this team is great,” Jones declared. “We had (in the past) a lot of older, more seasoned players who were more mentally astute, and now we have a bunch of young, upcoming footballers that need to mature in the game.” 

This afternoon, the national captain hopes the Soca Warriors hold the ball a lot more and make less mistakes.

“With games like these, it will help them to lean from mistakes and be better,” Jones said. 

Expressing the same sentiments as Jones was Belgium-based Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland who said: “This level is fast. You have to think fast and you have to play fast.”